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Neil Sarfati on the perils of telling mainstream media about Scientology’s abuses

Neil Sarfati has a wild and colorful story to tell about being a member of the Sea Org on the Apollo with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and being a member of the ship’s jazz band, the Apollo Stars.

He’s told that story numerous times over the past six or seven years, and he was also responsible for posting some really wonderful L. Ron Hubbard photographs from the era.

Last year, his story got a big write up in the Guardian, and this week the BBC featured Neil’s story about jazz and Scientology for its “Outlook” podcast.

But we noticed that at Facebook Neil was admitting to being disappointed in what had aired, saying that the BBC had bent over backwards for Scientology’s aggressive attorneys.


We talked to Neil yesterday, who told us he’s feeling well even though he’s still recovering from a recent heart attack. And after hearing from a lot of friends about the BBC program, he was feeling more charitable about the podcast, but he told us he was still disappointed that the BBC left out a lot more that he had told them about Scientology’s abuses.

“I had told them more about Scientology’s cruelty and their disconnection policy. That people who leave get attacked. And that Scientology only cares about money,” he says. And he was disappointed that they didn’t include his suggestion that people tune in to Leah Remini and Mike Rinder’s podcast, and he also recommended this website, but those recommendations were cut.

We told Neil we appreciated that he was hoping to get the Underground Bunker mentioned, but we thought what did make it on the podcast was evocative and interesting, and Scientology sounded pretty crazy.

Neil seemed most disappointed that the BBC parroted Scientology’s claim that “millions” had been “transformed” by the organization.

“The BBC didn’t fact-check it. We know it’s more like 20,000 people today. They just repeated what the church told them,” he says.

Even more alarming to us, however, was Neil’s claim that while the BBC didn’t go far enough because of an aggressive reaction from Scientology’s attorneys, an interview he did with NPR was cut entirely because the radio network was scared off by Scientology’s bloviations.

“NPR chickened out completely,” he says.

Well, that’s a shame. It’s kind of amazing to think that mainstream media organizations are still, in 2022, afraid of taking on Scientology, which has not sued a media organization since 1995.

Come on in, folks, the water’s fine!



Jon Atack and Chris Shelton




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Source Code

“If anybody ever sends you to jail, by all means, go to Alcatraz. They’re tearing it down. I’m just thinking of the Federal government. Even their prisons are going to pieces. Have you, did you know that? We’ve got to audit those people, that’s all there is to it, you know, because they’re in a violent ARC break. Somebody’s missed an item on the US government. I think, personally, they missed it with a no-auditing situation. We haven’t had any plan for auditing the government. We got one president audited. That was Truman. We ain’t had anybody else audited. Now, I just think they’re suffering from no auditing. Course, so of course, that leaves all items missed. And that’s another way of missing items. But it isn’t to a violent state. Somebody must have missed a list or something on the FDA. They must have. They must have. ‘What crumb are you?’ or something like that, something. ‘What type of insect egg did you come out of?’ You know?” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 15, 1963


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Thank you for answering my questionaire on what we should be doing. I can announce as a result of this that we are now doing what the whole crew wants us to be doing. We’re now getting operational so we can accomplish these things. We had a lot to catch up just so we could begin. All right, we’re obviously in agreement. So let’s get the show on the road and get done what we all want to do. Thank you for your help on the Questionnaire and on the ship.” — The Commodore, January 15, 1969



Overheard in the FreeZone

I have had recollections of running parts of Scientology on other planets. I have no specific recall of LRH being involved. I do not regard such recalls, my own included, as source data for the tech.”


Past is Prologue

2000: The Tampa Tribune reported this week that Bob Minton will be charged with battery for an incident during a protest at the Fort Harrison Hotel in October. “An outspoken critic of the Church of Scientology was formally charged with misdemeanor battery late Friday. New Hampshire millionaire Robert S. Minton Jr. faces a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted of striking Scientologist Richard W. Howd Jr. during a protest Oct. 31 outside the church’s spiritual headquarters in downtown Clearwater. State Attorney Bernie McCabe had the option of not prosecuting the case, and Minton had been waiting since his arrest the night of the incident for a determination. Neither could be reached for comment late Friday. In the battery incident, Minton was carrying a protest sign up and down the sidewalk outside the Fort Harrison Hotel on Halloween night while Howd filmed him at close range with a video camera. Minton testified that he struck Howd with his placard when Howd would not back away as Minton left the area.”


Random Howdy

“You don’t have to go up the Bridge to achieve a position of power in Scientology. All you have to do is be a wily, conniving, ruthless asshole. Just like every other totalitarian organization in history.”



Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for February 8. Trial scheduled for August 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), false imprisonment, aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Next hearing scheduled for January 18.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference January 22 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for February 11.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Next hearing February 15.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments held November 2, awaiting a ruling.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Judge denies Scientology’s motion for $160,000 in sanctions against Valerie Haney
[TWO years ago] Woman named in Danny Masterson lawsuit denies she’s smearing his victims for Scientology
[FOUR years ago] Joy Villa’s former manager: ‘Scientology destroyed everything’
[FIVE years ago] On the ‘Leah Remini’ Reddit special this week: A powerful Texas duo
[SIX years ago] Explain your vote, judge tells Maryland county that denied Scientology rehab
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology takes out full-page ad in the New York Times to attack Alex Gibney
[EIGHT years ago] Leah Remini talks briefly about Scientology on Access Hollywood, says very little
[NINE years ago] Paul Haggis on Scientology in NBC Interview: “It’s a Cult. Of Course It Is.”
[TEN years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: Get Your Harem On!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,546 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,051 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,571 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,591 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,482 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,789 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,657 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,431 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,762 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,235 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,551 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,117 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,036 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,204 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,785 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,046 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,082 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,797 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,322 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 677 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,852 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,403 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,552 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,872 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,727 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,846 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,202 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,505 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,611 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,009 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,885 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,468 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,963 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,217 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,326 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 15, 2022 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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